With the start of the new Championship season imminent we take a look at what the traders at SkyBet are offering across a variety of markets for the upcoming season and where the most value lies.
Last season Bournemouth were the team to triumph pipping Watford to the trophy with a nail-biting finish, but who will lift the trophy this year? Remaining in the Championship after heartbreak for both teams last season, Middlesbrough and Derby are the clear favourites to win the league this year, Boro outright favourites at 5/1 with Derby not far short at 11/2. Hull City have been pinned at 9/1 to take the league by storm, whilst other relegated teams Burnley and QPR both priced at 12/1. Falling at the play-off semi-finals last season, Brentford are fourth favourites to triumph this time around at 10/1 whilst other play-off unfortunates Ipswich are 16/1. Wolves missed out on the play-offs by goal difference last year, but despite this misfortune they are priced at a relatively low 12/1 to be champions.
Tip: Derby have strengthened their squad considerably, and full seasons for Darren Bent and Thomas Ince willmake The Rams a force going forward. Having Chris Martin and George Thorne back from injury will also be a huge boost, whilst the signing of Jason Shackell steadies the ship at the back considerably. Under the guidance of new boss Paul Clement a bet on Derby County each way (E/W) at 11/2 seems like a banker here.
Middlesbrough and Derby are obviously the clear favourites to make the step up this season being shortly priced at 13/8 and 7/4, respectively. Of the teams who have made the step down Hull City are favourites to bounce back at the first of asking at 11/4, Burnley follow at 7/2 despite the loss of Danny Ings, whilst QPR are the longest price at 9/2. Last season’s top 6 finishers Brentford are shortly priced at 7/2 and fellow play-off chasers Ipswich Town are a glamorous 11/2 to bag promotion this time around. Looking to improve on the heartbreak of last season Wolves have been priced at 4/1 to regain their Premier League status, whilst outsiders worth taking note of are Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton who are both 7/1 after busy summers in the transfer market.
Tip: Again it’s hard to look past Derby going up here and at 7/4 they are a better looking price than Boro who are also likely candidates at 13/8. If you’re looking for a bit more value out of this bet Hull City at 11/4 or Wolves at 4/1 are also tempting punts when considering the play-offs. At 7/2 Burnley are indeed an attractive looking bet, but the loss of Ings, Trippier and Shackell is probably too much to send them back up this season.
Top 6 Finish
The clear favourites for a top 6 finish this season are no doubt Boro and Derby who are both odds on to at least grab a play-off spot, Boro priced at 8/15, whilst Derby at 4/6. Two of the relegated teams are included amongst the favourites with Hull at 11/10 and Burnley a slightly better price of 11/8. A new manager, a new philosophy and a bucket load of new players puts Brentford at 5/4 to repeat last season’s efforts, whilst Wolves are 13/8 to go one better than last time out. Although they still have a number of quality players at their disposal QPR are pinned as one of the outsiders for a top 6 finish at 15/8, whilst Ipswich are priced at 2/1 despite their previous 6th place finish. Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton and League 1 winners Bristol City are all at 11/4 to claim a play-off position this season, with Nottingham Forest rounding up the outside 6 at 3/1. A team who could provide a real outside challenge are Reading, and with Steve Clarke’s first full season in charge and still time to bag a goalscorer in what has already been a successful transfer window, his team could be a surprise package at 9/2.
Tip: Boro and Derby have been priced far too short to get value out of them with this bet, however at 13/8 Wolves look to be of great value. Last season’s disappointment will still be fresh in the mind and with the couple of additions and few losses they have endured during the transfer window Kenny Jackett is set to grab that play-off spot this time out. Ipswich will be challenging for the top 6 again and with their impressive home form and signings you’ve got to think 2/1 is great value. Hull and Burnley should make or at least challenge the top 6 this season, but they are of too short odds to get any real value out of and for now have been avoided.
Heavy favourites to suffer the drop this year are Rotherham who are currently priced at 11/8, they are joined by Charlton at 9/4 and Bolton at 7/2 as the bookies three favourites to drop down into League 1. At 4/1 Huddersfield and Birmingham are also teams the bookies think will be lurking around the dreaded drop zone. The three teams promoted from League 1 have all been priced relatively generously with MK Dons and Preston at 5/1, whilst Bristol City a huge 9/1 to fall straight back down. Outsiders at 6/1 make Blackburn are tempting bet who have already lost Rudy Gestede and could be set to lose other key players including Jordan Rhodes.
Tip: Although they have been busy in this transfer window, Rotherham have failed to sign any real quality to help them stay in this league comfortably. The bookies have recognised this in pricing them at 11/8 and although the value isn’t there this looks to be a reasonably comfortable bet. A bet with great value however is that of MK Dons to drop back down to League 1 who despite their growing stature as a club have not strengthened enough to be comfortable, and at 5/1 are a good punt. Finally, Blackburn at 6/1. Long gone are the days of Shearer and the Premier League and after a summer of losing key players with unproven ones coming the other way the transfer embargo may have set up their season for them. Although this could be down to how they fair come the end of the transfer window, a punt at 6/1 is too good to resist.
Benik Afobe and Chris Martin lead the way as favourites for top scorer at 10/1, whilst a flurry of players including Daryl Murphy, Darren Bent, Ross McCormack, Andre Gray and Jordan Rhodes trail them at 12/1. Middlesbrough’s answer to Patrick Bamford, Christian Stuani is priced at 18/1 along with Hull City striker Dame N’Doye, whilst Brentford’s new man Lasse Vibe is at 20/1. Wolves forwards Dicko and loanee Le Fondre are sitting pretty at 25/1, with Sam Vokes also representing Burnley at this price. With no odds offered for Charlie Austin, Jamie Mackie has been priced as QPR’s best hope at 66/1.
Tip: A lottery to say the least with this one and without seeing how the season starts it is a tricky one to predict. Considering SkyBet offer first 4 places on each way bets with this market I’ve picked out four players to put on each way. Firstly, at 10/1, Benik Afobe who bagged 13 goals in 21 appearances in his half season at Wolves last year who is a likely candidate to place in the top 4. Daryl Murphy and Ross McCormack are likely to be the main source of goals for their teams again this season and I like the look of them to place in the top 4 at a price of 12/1. My fourth and last choice is Arsenal loanee Chuba Akpom who impressed during the Gunners’ pre-season tour and certainly has the pace and strength to do the same in the Championship. At 33/1 he is an outsider but an each way bet makes him great value.
League winner: Derby County E/W @ 11/2
Promotion: Derby County @ 7/4
Top 6 finish: Wolves @ 13/8
Relegation: Rotherham @ 11/8
Benik Afobe E/W @ 10/1
Daryl Murphy E/W @ 12/1
Ross McCormack E/W @ 12/1
Chuba Akpom E/W @ 33/1
*odds were sourced from SkyBet and are correct as of 06/08/2015